Hey Jeff! I was wondering if I could bug you for some advice. My friend wants to have a gallery night for his work. I was wondering how and where we could get a venue to hold such a thing? Do you have any recommendations or advice? Thanks in advance!
The first thing I would think about is, what kind of exhibition/show do you want to have? There are a few things to consider:
1) How many pieces do you want to show?
2) Would you want it to be showing for one night (like a gala or fundraiser) or, does he just want a longer, more permanent installation?
Once you’ve figured out how many pieces you’ll want to show and the duration you can get a better idea and narrow down your choices. Assuming you’d want to show your pieces for longer (because you’ve spent the money to produce them) then here are a few places you can start out with:
1) Restaurants. Some restaurants will have a regular artist(s) showing work in a rotating schedule. Quite often the restaurant will take a percentage of any sales, usually 30% to 50% depending on how much marketing and work they do for you. The benefit is you’ll get lots of foot traffic and your work will be shown and perhaps recognized more. The downside is people go into a restaurant to eat and it’s rare that they decide on purchasing art when sitting down to dinner. Another thing to consider is the type of restaurant. If they have a deep fryer be aware your work will probably not be in the same state it came in.
2) Coffee & Tea Shops. Again, like some restaurants, coffee and tea shops are a good place to get foot traffic. It will probably be even more rare to get a sale at these places, but it will be good advertising. I’d suggest only showing work that you’ve already produced here. Spending lots of money to make prints for a coffee shop exhibit can be a waste of time and money. If you have work collecting dust at home then by all means, display them. It’s better out there for people to enjoy than in a dark closet in your home.
3) Professional office. An office like a doctor, lawyer, etc. can be a good place to display your work when you’re first starting out. These places are a bit better than a retail outlet. You know the people who frequent this place have jobs and may have a bit more expendable income. There’s usually a waiting room where people have time to look at your work in greater detail than a store. Expect to give the business a cut, usually around 30% is reasonable.
4) Framing shops. Framing shops usually also sell framed art. Quite often they’ll have a section or display dedicated to selling work from local artists. To approach a framing shop, first frequent the establishment. Ensure you get on a first name basis with the owner or manager. One day, casually mention you have work that they may find interesting and then ask to set up an appointment to show your portfolio. Places like these will probably take half the selling price, but they’ll also be the best place to sell work.
5) Fundraising events / Non-profits. There are a few non-profit organizations out there that sell art from emerging artists. Timeraiser is one such organization.
6) Arts and craft fairs. There are a bunch of art fairs that pop up, especially during November and December when people are looking for presents to buy. Google art fairs in your city and see which ones suit your style of art. A lot of these arts and craft fairs are geared only to painters so do your research. If you don’t see any photography in their vendor list then move on. You don’t want to support an arts fair that is exclusive to one medium.